5 Considerations for a Successful Workplace Violence Prevention Program

October 6, 2022

Your health care facility is ready to form a workplace violence prevention program (WPVP), but first, there are five key areas of consideration in order to ensure successful implementation. By engaging these five areas, your program will provide a well-rounded, well thought-through approach focused on the Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM of staff and their patients.

1. The Who

Who makes up the WPVP committee is almost equally as important as what is being implemented.

Imagine the WPVP program to be a shield made of overlapping protective armored plates, or a safety umbrella with supporting ribs. Whatever the metaphor, use it to communicate a unifying strategy that conveys the expectation that all will collectively contribute to and benefit from WPVP.

The size of an organization may determine how many workplace violence (WPV) committees are needed. There may be only one WPV committee for an entire organization, or there may be one WPV oversight committee, with several subcommittees/teams from other buildings/facilities that report up to the oversight committee.

To form the main WPV committee structure, organizations should include representation from:

  • Public Safety
  • Risk Management
  • Legal
  • Human Resources
  • Senior Leadership
  • Clinical Staff Areas
  • Social Services

The committee/groups should be tasked to initiate and brainstorm prevention strategies, develop risk mitigation action plans, and provide an outlet of communication where vital information and statistics can be shared and reviewed.

2. Change Management

Change management is the practice and process of supporting people through change, with the goal of ensuring that the change is successful in the long term. Change management helps people to change their behaviors, attitudes, and/or work processes to achieve a desired business objective or outcome.

Organizations need to follow a plan for change management to adjust the culture. This is essential for sustainability.

Below are some essential pieces to consider when working to successfully alter the culture of an organization:


Engaging leadership and necessary decision makers regarding creating policies, standards, strategies, goals, etc.


Consists of multiple, repeat layers of communication to inform staff and other stakeholders about plans and expectations; focus on positivity and need.


Collecting feedback and listening to concerns; engaging early adopters and uniting others to the common goal.

Planning and Design

Analysis of current workflow and evaluation of how to integrate new initiatives; identify barriers and work out logistics to implementation.


Guiding and educating staff and role-specific rollout and ongoing, follow-up training; ensure training shows up in daily practices.


Evaluating program success, measuring performance, tracking progress, and reviewing and monitoring participation and feedback.

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3. Culture of Safety

Creating a culture of safety involves communicating to both the customers and staff working for the organization that any forms of aggression or violence are unacceptable and will be treated with the seriousness they demand.

The expectation for the environment and behavior of those in the space to engage in nonviolent, cooperative behavior is often presented through a variety of communication mediums including but not limited to:

  • Signage
  • Formal policies and procedures
  • Clear communication
  • Soft language

4. Reporting

Raw number data alone can be misconceived without the proper context; workplace violence prevention programs should consist of rates relative to other comparable data. Some examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) and rates that should be monitored are:

  • Number of violent incidents/full-time employees
  • Number of violent incidents/patient days/department
  • Number of employee injuries due to violence/number of violent events
  • Number of violent incidents by day of week or by time of day
  • Number of violent incidents by employee 

5. Before Responding

During a time of crisis, a person’s ability to think rationally may be diminished, which can lead them to make irrational statements or threats of harm to staff or others. It is difficult to know what actions someone might be capable of acting on, so when staff are being threatened, they should do the following.

  • Stay calm and communicate in an even tone and manner.
  • Attempt verbal de-escalation strategies to calm the person in crisis.
  • Keep a safe distance away from the person to avoid being physically assaulted.
  • If things begin to escalate further, staff should remove themselves from the situation as quickly as possible and seek further assistance from other staff, the IRT, Public Safety, or even police if necessary.
  • Do not attempt a hands-on approach with a person who is an active threat, unless required by your role and trained to do so.

These “protocols” should be noted by the workplace violence prevention committee clearly throughout their policies and procedures. And they should be communicated often. 

Receive a Digital Copy of the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook

The areas of consideration discussed here are from the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, published by CPI and authored by health care professionals and subject matter experts Kimberly Urbanek, system manager, administration and training of public safety, alongside Kyle Graham, clinical manager, child and youth mental health programs.


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